It’s not your imagination. Minnesota winters just aren’t what they used to be. Tornado watches on March 6? Since when does that happen in Minnesota? Until Monday — never.

The reality is that society’s collective use of dirty energy has warmed Minnesota winters an average of almost six degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, which effectively makes Minnesota’s winters shorter, less intense and nothing resembling a normal Minnesota winter. While that might sound good at first, especially to this imported Arizonan, it comes with consequences for winter recreation, businesses and our health.

In colder climates, like ours, winter-based recreational activities, like skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling are less prevalent. This has effects on local businesses and kids who just want to play pond hockey throughout winter. The frequency of Lyme disease in Minnesota is increasing because more disease-carrying insects, like ticks, survive milder winters. Allergy season is already 21 days longer than it was in 1995, and pollen counts are rising, which can trigger respiratory illnesses for allergy sufferers. This can have deadly implications for children and the elderly.

The most important actions we can take are to support smart progrowth economic policies that reduce our energy waste and fully embrace clean energy to power our modern world. Doing so will stabilize our climate and winters, reduce the risks of further damage to our economy, and immediately provide better health via cleaner air and water.

These policies would help steer America toward a path of more durable economic growth by encouraging technological innovation and large-scale substitution of existing energy sources. They also would provide much-needed regulatory relief to U.S. industries. Companies, especially those in the energy sector, finally would have the predictability they now lack, removing one of the most serious impediments to capital investment.

Perhaps most importantly, there are policies that speak to the increasing frustration and economic insecurity experienced by many working-class Americans. These policies would elevate the fortunes of frustrated citizens by generating millions of jobs. Many working-class Minnesotans will find high-wage work producing locally made energy that cannot be outsourced to other countries.

Simply put, these policies are pro-economic-growth, pro-jobs, pro-competitiveness, and great for working-class Americans.

The problem is that right now, America’s de-facto energy policy is the socialization of pollution from dirty energy, and Republican leadership, until very recently, has been missing. Thankfully, this is quickly changing. President Trump recognized the risks of rising seas from a warming world to his golf course in Ireland and requested permission from Ireland to build a sea wall. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during his confirmation hearings, spoke about free-market policies that can avoid climate risk. In mid-February, seminal leaders of the Reagan coalition — such as former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James Baker III began speaking out on solutions that would modernize our energy systems while simultaneously growing our economy and increasing our competitiveness with China and India in the clean-energy economy.

The timing of these Republican leaders speaking out couldn’t be better, because volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) have worked with members of Congress to establish the Climate Solutions Caucus, otherwise known as the “Noah’s Ark” caucus. It is aptly named, because to join the caucus you must bring a member from across the political aisle with you. Per documents filed with the U.S. Committee on House Administration, “The caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety.”

Today there are 13 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the caucus, and it’s expected to grow, two by two, in the coming months. These politicians represent 14 states and include Republicans from Illinois, Nebraska and Utah. Minnesota is not represented — yet.

Minnesotans currently carry the burden of socialized pollution, and the very real costs associated with it. With the right leadership from the state’s elected officials, that can change. There are multiple CCL chapters around Minnesota, with hundreds of volunteers. We represent a broad political coalition of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and independents in every congressional district. We encourage you to find a colleague from the other side of the aisle and join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus that is chaired by Reps. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla. Your constituents will support you.

 

Tim Reckmeyer lives in Prior Lake with his wife and two daughters. He is the leader of the Scott County chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. You can reach him at scottcounty@citizensclimatelobby.org.